Is Jealousy Normal In Friendship? (Explained)

According to “Psychology Today,” envy is what you feel when people have things you want in your life. 

If your friends are envious of your success, that can make you not want to share the good things in your life with them. If your friend is jealous of your other friends, they may become clingy or distant, straining the friendship.

If your friend is jealous of your significant other or family situation, this can cause friction between you.

Ways To Deal With Jealousy In Relationships:

Since it’s a fairly universal experience, there are multiple ways to deal with jealousy in a friendship. Talking to your friend about their jealous behavior or addressing your feelings of inadequacy are vital to maintaining long-lasting friendships.

Your Friend is Envious of Your Success

Say you receive some great news, like a promotion at work, an engagement, or you closed on a new home.

If your friend reacts negatively to this news, they probably are jealous of your success. If your friend doesn’t have a handle on their jealousy, they may respond by pointing out what unfair advantages you have that made it possible for you to get that achievement.

Another way that you may see this type of jealousy crop up is if your friend’s response to your good news is immediately followed up by an example of how they’ve also had success.

In strong friendships, everyone wants to see the others succeed. However, if this news is delivered as a direct response to your good news, it may be coming from a place of jealousy.

Suppose you get a promotion at work, and when you tell your friend, they respond with something like, “Well, it’s about time. I got promoted six months ago.” That’s not likely to make you feel good about your achievement, and your friend is probably dealing with envy and getting defensive.

When a friend covets what you have, they may also have to deal with a lot of other emotions, including:

  • Shame
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Resentment

There’s also a good chance that an envious friend feels terrible that they are not genuinely happy for you or that their happiness is tinged with envy. This can also strain a friendship, and they may need to work through those feelings themselves.

Your Friend is Jealous of Your Other Friends

Many of us have multiple groups of friends who don’t necessarily interact.

You might have friends from work, a running group or yoga class, and friends you made in college. Those people don’t need to know each other or get along, but they can all be important to you.

However, if you have a friend threatened by these other people, they are likely jealous of your relationships outside of them. A lot of jealousy comes from feeling like you will be replaced by someone else.

If you start spending more time with these other groups, it can take away time from a friend who is having jealous feelings. This may cause them to purposely distance themselves from you to protect their feelings or monopolize time with you by insisting they get invited to all activities.

Imagine you begin training for a marathon with your running group. This will be a significant time commitment, meaning that you spend more time with the friend group made up of other runners.

If your non-runner friend experiences jealousy, they may insist that they too want to train for a marathon and begin to show up at the runs, even if they don’t like running.

They may also avoid you altogether, pushing you away since you “don’t have time for them anymore.” Both of these scenarios are indicative that your friend is experiencing jealousy.

Your Friend is Jealous of Your Romantic Partner

When we are young, it’s easy to think that we will remain close to our friends forever.

Our friends are indeed the most valuable relationships we have at certain times in our lives.

Yet life rolls on, and as we get older, many of us find romantic partners. This can severely strain a friendship, especially if your friend is jealous of your romantic partner.

This can be because your friend is romantically attracted to your new partner and wishes they’d been the one chosen by that person, which can get incredibly complicated if your friend and partner have a romantic history.

It also might be that this new person in your life may worry your friend. They are afraid of getting pushed out because you’re spending time with your new partner.

Friends may also feel jealous that you’re in a healthy, loving relationship if they are not also in one. In that case, it’s not necessarily that your friend is jealous of your life or your partner in that they want to take that person away from you.

They instead want a life where they can be as happy as you are.

Imagine a couple decides to try for a baby and gets pregnant relatively quickly, and has a healthy child. A friend of this couple may experience intense jealousy if they have dealt with infertility or suffered from miscarriages.

It’s no one’s fault, but it can strain the friendship if left unaddressed.

You May Be The One Experiencing Jealousy

Now, it’s one thing if you’re the object of envy or jealousy.

The ugly truth is that many of us are envious of our friends. No one likes to admit it, but most of us have probably been the jealous ones in a friendship.

These feelings aren’t easy to deal with, and their complexities add an extra layer of difficulty. Deciding to address these emotions can save a friendship, no matter who feels them.

How To Deal With Jealousy

When you notice that envy and jealousy are beginning to impact a friendship, it’s essential to take steps to address those feelings.

Although it’s hard to face, talking things through with your friend can be the most significant step in clearing the air.

If possible, be specific and plan what you want to say and how you say it.

Practice “I” Statements:

“I feel you aren’t happy for me based on how you reacted when I told you that I got a new car last week” is more likely to get a positive response than, “You always make me feel bad about good things that happen in my life!”

If you’re the one feeling jealous, you might say something like, “I feel like you and I don’t hang out much anymore since you started dating this new person. Can we make an effort to see each other more?”

Do Your Own Work:

If you’re feeling these negative feelings towards your friends, it might be up to you to work through them yourself if there isn’t a practical solution.

If you’re jealous of your friend’s higher salary, this may stress the relationship if your friend suggests activities that add financial strain if you keep participating.

It may be up to you to say, “Hey, I don’t have much liquid cash flow right now. Can we hang out at the park instead of going out to eat?”

Of course, exploring your feelings can help you cope with them. Perhaps you find you’re envious of your friend’s new laptop or feel bad that their apartment is nicer than yours.

It’s okay to use that to fuel a change in your own life.

If you can switch positions or focus on saving money for six months so that you can afford to move, something positive can come out of that initial lousy feeling.

Practice Gratitude & Self-Reflection:

Another way to deal with jealousy or envy is to practice gratitude for the things in your life and evaluate if you want your friend’s things.

For instance, say your friend has a nicer place but is stressed about making the mortgage each month. 

You’re in a smaller or older home that’s well within your budget, and while your appliances might not be as shiny, your level of stress is much less than your friend’s.

You might feel that initial pang at their housewarming party, but when you get home and have some time to yourself, you may notice that actually, you don’t want what they have.

Whether a family member or a professional, speaking with someone is an excellent way to help you work through these issues.

Sources

How To Cope When You’re Envious of a Friend | Psychology Today